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Arkansas deputy fired for not activating body camera ahead of teen's fatal shooting

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley said there's no footage of the June 23 fatal shooting of Hunter Brittain, 17.

An Arkansas sheriff fired a deputy on Thursday for failing to turn on his body camera before a deadly encounter with a young motorist last week.

Lonoke County Sgt. Michael Davis violated department policy by failing to activate his body-worn camera during a traffic stop in the early morning hours of June 23, Sheriff John Staley said. The stop ended in the shooting death of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain.

Image: Michael Davis
Michael Davis.via KARK

"Our policy says the deputy must activate the camera before encountering any member of the public while taking official action and certainly as part of any traffic stop," Staley said in videotaped statement.

"My review of this deputy's actions has determined that he did not activate his body camera in a timely way. This means there's no video of the actual shooting. We see the aftermath but not the shooting. "

The sheriff added: "Due to that failure, I have terminated the employment of this deputy."

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Brittain's family, welcomed the sheriff's action, saying that Staley "did the right thing" by firing Davis.

"Body cameras are, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the only way to see the unbiased facts surrounding a police and civilian encounter resulting in injury and/or death," Crump said in a statement.

When Brittain was pulled over, the white teenager's car would not shift properly into park, Crump said.

Brittain got out the car and took out a plastic bottle of antifreeze to place behind a wheel, in hopes the vehicle wouldn't roll toward the deputy, when the shooting happened, according to Crump.

Firing Davis is the most the department could do against the deputy, Staley said, as the shooting is being investigated by state police and prosecutors.

"Did the deputy act legally? That's up to Arkansas State Police and the prosecuting attorney. I have nothing to do with it, nor should I," he said. "That's the whole point behind an independent investigation."

It was not immediately clear Friday if Davis had hired an attorney or was represented by any labor union.